Don’t Be Mean to Yourself When Jumping into Personal Change
Updated: Nov 6
A lot of people I coach want to make big changes in their lives. And that’s a good thing…Stopping bad habits, reaching out to new people, learning new skills, implementing new healthy habits, communicating more authentically, starting creative projects, launching new adventures, and so much more…
When we humans want to make changes like these, we’ve usually thought about it for a long time and now we are ready for a shift.
The thing we have to watch out for, though, is not to do violence to the inner wisdom underpinning our barriers. Usually, we were trying valiantly–even with twisted logic–to protect ourselves (or others) while we were actually blocking ourselves.
Even when we want to stop a bad habit, there are often positive reasons for continuing it. Like eating or drinking too much could boil down to wanting to sit with others and enjoy conversations and connection over meals. Not exercising, for someone with a busy schedule, could show a longing to relax more, sleep in, and “rebel” a little. Not wanting to provide helpful feedback to co-workers often reflects a respect for the feelings of the other person.
Usually our unconscious feelings about these things have a nugget of wisdom in them. Even when they create the opposite results.
I believe that change involves preserving–but re-interpreting–these positive instincts in ourselves. Not wrestling them down or stamping them out to make them disappear.
I believe that energy doesn’t die; rather, it transforms. So we can use these once positive beliefs to map out our change strategy.
Someone who wants to start getting up early to exercise can achieve success more easily if they ALSO provide some relaxation elsewhere in their life. Someone who wants to coach their employees more can get to know them personally, listen more AND provide authentic feedback. This mix of connection and honesty will become the “New Nice.”
So whatever you’re wanting to change, be gentle with yourself and ask about the positive reasons for not changing. Attend first to new and better ways to attend to those wise instincts before you force the change.
It’s kind of like taking scissors from a toddler by first handing them another toy. It’s sooooo much easier, and you’ve shown great respect for yourself.